Driving the Day: Richardson Announcement?
Word is that we’ll be getting a presser today to announce that Speaker Todd Richardson has agreed to become the new Medicaid Director. According to the rumors, Richardson will start the job next month. We’ll see.
Two recurring themes among the chatter on this… first, Richardson has an enormous reserve of respect and goodwill among the political class. In the words of one MOScouter, “Missouri was lucky that he was speaker when the Greitens sexcapades hit the fan. His patience, honor and intelligence guided the state through a very trying time.”
Second, he’s entering perhaps the toughest job in state government. Folks use words like “quagmire,” “Vietnam,” and “byzantine” when talking about the complexities of the Medicaid system and the difficulties involved with affecting any significant change. A large portion of the state operations are driven or constrained by federal rules. And everyone wants two outcomes which often seem incompatible – great service delivery, and lowering the costs which have become a hallmark of our health system.
While we’re all having coffee, Governor Mike Parson is meeting with Civic Progress…
Hawley’s Tenure as AG Under Scrutiny
The New York Times and the Post-Dispatch both published stories yesterday that looked at Josh Hawley’s brief tenure as Missouri Attorney General.
From the NYTimes (see it here): “[A] review of public records and internal documents, as well as interviews with current and former employees, reveals a chaotic tenure as attorney general that has been costly for state taxpayers. Judges have criticized the office over its slow pace of discovery, and Mr. Hawley’s staff had to renege on a settlement in a high-profile civil case. Mr. Hawley also quietly closed the environmental division and failed to fully vet one of his top supervisors, who departed after a female attorney in the office complained about his conduct. And his deputies took an unusual approach in an investigation of the governor’s office, largely acceding to demands to limit interviews of the governor’s staff to 15 minutes, internal records obtained by The New York Times show. And while Mr. Hawley focused on politicized issues, like joining a federal effort to dismantle Obamacare, his office was hollowed out of experienced litigators, leading to a sharp increase in settlement costs…. Some attorneys who worked in the office said a large part of the division’s problem stemmed from Mr. Hawley’s pick of Mr. Quinlan for such an important position. Before his hiring, Mr. Quinlan was a “mediator and conflict coach” at Christian Family Renewal, a marriage counseling group he founded. His LinkedIn profile indicated that his litigation experience took place mostly in the 1980s and early 1990s… Mr. Quinlan left the office in December after nine months, weeks after a female attorney in the office complained about receiving an unwelcome lecture from him about her sex life…”
From the Post Dispatch (see it here): “In January 2017, Josh Hawley became the first Republican to lead the Missouri attorney general’s office in a quarter century. Hawley was going to take on the federal government. He was going to shake up his office’s organization chart… Critics say Hawley’s administration bled staffers and dedicated limited resources to firing salvos toward the federal government. They say he carried a lighter load than his predecessors. Seven lawyers interviewed by the Post-Dispatch described a turbulent transition from Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster to Hawley, triggered in part by his overhaul of the office. Former staffers complain of low morale…”
Follow-Up on MOScout Poll
538 (see it here) offers this zinger in its assessment of MOScout’s poll last weekend…. You might think that the two polls released this week in Missouri — giving Republican Josh Hawley 1- and 3-point leads — would be good news for him. Not true, in fact: Both pollsters have Republican-leaning house effects, so our model actually read both polls as about a 2-point lead for Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. Her chances of winning in the Lite model have ticked up to 5 in 9 as a result. (McCaskill fares a bit better in our Classic forecast, with a 3 in 5 chance.)
Arpaio SuperPAC To Support McDowell
According to this tweet the Joe Arpaio SuperPAC, Protect America First, is having an event for Saundra McDowell this weekend.
It’s unclear how much money the SuperPAC will actually raise and spend on McDowell’s behalf. But she needs the help. Nicole Galloway reported $1.3 million on-hand last week, and McDowell only reported $.02 million on-hand.
According to the Protect America First website, one of the SuperPAC’s defining issues is the relatively fringe notion that we should dissolve the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal. See it here.
High Stakes for Prop D
Supporters and opponents alike say that the stakes on Prop D are as high as they get. Some draw a comparison to the recent right to work referendum. This is becoming a “the voters have spoken” moment. If this transportation tax fails, there aren’t going to be any new gas tax proposals for a half-dozen years, maybe longer.
Also one sharp politico also points out that the incoming class of Republican senators is looking fiscally hawkish. They don’t see Tony Luetkemeyer, Cindy O’Laughlin, or Justin Brown being fans of higher taxes – regardless of the purpose. You put them together with Sens. Bill Eigel, Ed Emery, and Andrew Koenig, and you might have a filibuster minyan that could prevent some similar question from even getting out of that chamber.
One politico – who has no dog in the fight – says that the math is what makes this campaign a heavy lift. In a state like Missouri with a strong anti-tax sentiment, he says “you start with 40% against it” straight off the bat. If four of ten voters are outright hostile to a ballot question, you have to win 5 out of the other 6 voters to pass it. That’s 83% of that smaller pool.
There’s no organized campaign against the tax, and I hear only accolades for the Pro-Prop D campaign. So, we’ll see….
Senate 16: Franklin for Dillon?
On Facebook Ryan Dillon, the Dmeocratic candidate in Senate 16, shared a picture of himself with Rep. Diane Franklin. Franklin lost the Republican primary to Justin Brown. And she had some kind words to say about Dillon on Facebook… “I think Ryan would make a good senator for the 16th district. Of those running for the position he is the only one that has acknowledged my service to the district which shows me that he’s mature and that he’s really interested in serving the folks of the 16th. We certainly don’t agree on every issue but we do agree on civility.”
Columbia Tribune announces “Longtime reporter Rudi Keller has been named news editor for the Columbia Daily Tribune. The newspaper’s managing editor, Charles L. Westmoreland, made the announcement to staff Oct. 18. Keller’s promotion takes effect today… In his new role, Keller will lead the Tribune’s team of news reporters while staying involved with reporting. The post was previously filled by City Editor Matt Sanders, who served in the position for five years before departing the Tribune in August.”
Spotted by MOScout tipster over the weekend…. Famously fastidious Republican strategist Gregg Keller with child in tow in on a school playground, looking unusually disheveled w/ untucked shirt and without any visible pomade. "A metaphor for a Hawley campaign in disarray?" Asked one hopeful Dem.
Middle Class Missouri PAC - $25,000 from Missouri State Council of Machinists PAC.
Viceroy PAC - $17,500 from Golden Entertainment.
CLEAN Missouri - $15,000 from Ballot Strategy Center.
SaferMO.Com - $20,000 from Phillip Hardy.
SaferMO.Com - $50,000 from Massman Construction Co.
Freedom Incorporated - $15,000 from Raise Up Missouri.
Friends for Locke Thompson - $10,000 from Locke Thompson.
Amendment2IsABigLie.Com - $11,000 from Bradley Bradshaw.
Amendment2IsABigLie.Com - $31,000 from Bradley Bradshaw.
Freedom Incorporated - $25,000 from Ketchmark and McCreight PC.
Paul Berry III For St Louis County - $30,000 from Fred N Sauer.
MACFPD Campaign Committee - $250,000 from Missouri Assn of Career Fire Protection Districts.
New Approach Missouri - $6,000 from Agrios Global Holdings.
Happy birthdays to Sen. Caleb Rowden, Rep. Rocky Miller, former Rep. Chris Kelly and Kathy Licklider.